We’re going through Luke’s Gospel on Sunday mornings and this past week I was studying Luke 4:18, which says “Jesus preached the Gospel to the poor.” In many translations it says “Jesus preached the Good News to the poor”, because gospel means good news. This had me thinking about what the good news actually is and I really see two sides to it. Of course the Good News is that through faith in Christ our sins are forgiven and His righteousness becomes our righteousness. It’s the Good News that we get to go to heaven. I’ve heard some people say, “You don’t want to tell people about hell though…that’s the Bad News!” Well…no, it’s not actually. It’s actually as much the good news as the Good News. I would say it like this: there are two sides to the Gospel, or two pieces of Good News for us:
- We get to go to heaven.
- But it’s equally Good News that we don’t have to go to hell.
We rejoice that we get to go to heaven, but we should also rejoice that we don’t have to go to hell. Since when did it become Bad News that we don’t have to go to hell? If you preach the Gospel and you leave out hell, you’re leaving out some really important, wonderful stuff. You’re leaving out that Jesus experienced Hell so we wouldn’t have to. The Gospel is about the grace AND mercy of God, but if you leave out hell, you’re leaving out the mercy of the Gospel. Here’s what I mean:
- Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve, and going to heaven is grace. Heaven reveals the grace of God. We don’t deserve to go to heaven, but we get to go by God’s grace.
- Mercy is not receiving what we deserve…it’s not receiving a punishment we deserve (you’re speeding and the cop doesn’t give you a ticket; he had mercy on you because you didn’t receive what you deserved). If we don’t go to hell that’s mercy, because we’re not receiving the ticket we deserve. Being spared from hell is the greatest revelation of God’s mercy.
Think of Jesus’ example: Luke 4:18 says He preached the Gospel, and He taught about the Kingdom of Heaven really often…but He also talked about Hell…A LOT. If you present the Gospel and don’t mention hell, you’re leaving out the mercy; you’re leaving out half of the greatness of the Gospel. Tell people how to be saved. Tell them what they’re saved for: Heaven. But also tell them what they’re saved from: Hell.
Here’s the sermon I preached on part of Luke 4:18: The Spiritually Poor.